Want to work differently? A grant from the AIM Hallmarks Awards can help you

Now open for applications, the latest round of the  AIM Hallmarks Awards will make grants totalling around £70,000 in England and just over £20,000 in Wales.

Funded by Arts Council England and supported by Welsh Government, the AIM Hallmarks Awards offer grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 to help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

So, what type of project has been previously funded and how can you ensure you are successful? We talked to Catherine Allan, Chair of Trustees and Co Director from Rhayader Museum & Gallery in Wales who were successful in Round 2 to see how the Awards have benefited them – and what tips they could share to help your application.

Rhayader Museum & Gallery

AIM: Hi Catherine, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you explain why you decided to apply for the AIM Hallmarks Awards please?

CA: At Rhayader Museum and Gallery, we had already identified a project we wanted to work on and I felt that it would fit really well within the grant guidelines and would give us the opportunity to do the work. We had already trialled parts of the project – which was about recording local town and county shows – two years ago with volunteers so knew that what we wanted to do would be possible!

AIM: How did it enable you to work in new ways as an organisation?

CA: There were three aspects to this: using volunteers in new ways, using new technology and – especially – developing new kinds of community involvement. Encouraging people to record their community in various ways allows them to use new technology, take ownership of the process, to feel that their way of life is of value. It gives those who are not so skilled more confidence and improved social networks. It has allowed us to re-engage with sections of our community in ways we haven’t been able to do in a while.

AIM: How does the project AIM has funded fit in with your strategic priorities?

CA: Rhayader Museum and Gallery, has a mission statement which includes promoting participation in arts and heritage activity for social and cultural benefit, encouraging skill sharing and learning and using creative projects to celebrate and represent the area’s distinctive voices. We work in partnership with all ages and abilities to foster a sense of place, worth and confidence. As well as the project fitting in with the mission statement aims, it also fitted in with our aim as a museum, of growing our audience.

AIM: What did you apply to the AIM Hallmarks Awards to fund?

CA: We are a rural area and have four small agricultural shows around small town of Rhayader (population around 2,000.) Rhayader also has a large summer Carnival. Although some of the same people go to and take part in the Carnival, the events are very different in feel and content.

Carnival is a town celebration with a procession, a crowning of the Carnival Queen, visits from other towns with their floats and princesses and lots of people dressing up. Many different organisations take part and visitors come from far and wide. There is food and drink and live music all day coming from the local pubs and the streets are busy from late morning to evening.

The shows are much quieter and are the way the farming community and their families celebrate. Outsiders do come to them but they tend to be very local to the show fields or family members who have left the area. They feature events such as stock judging, handicraft and produce tent, duck and horse racing, pet shows etc. The bar is often a horse box.

It struck me that they also had a much more fragile feel. The shows are only just recovering from the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. Foot and mouth is an ever-present danger, and with proposed changes in EU membership and farm subsidies, I felt we should be doing what we could to record a way of celebrating that might change substantially or even be lost. Recording both projects would also involve doing oral histories and collecting historic documents and photographs where possible.

There will also be film and written records for people to look at in the museum. Our geographic footprint will be improved as more visitors are able to access aspects of these events they may not have before. The project will allow people who would not normally be inclined to go into a museum to do so, or to access our work in different ways. Overall, the project will reflect back the community to itself and allow it to value how unique it is.

AIM: What was the AIM Hallmarks Awards application process like for you?

CA: My colleague, Krysia Bass, and myself both found the process of applying for a grant was much more straight forward than many. I am not a trained fundraiser and found it quite manageable.

AIM: That’s good to hear Catherine – so what advice or tips would you give to other organisations applying for an AIM Hallmarks Award in Round 3?

CA: I would say that the most important thing is to find a project you feel passionate about. If you don’t really care…why should anyone else? The second thing is obvious – make sure that what you want to do fits with AIM’s criteria. And lastly, have all the fairly tedious but necessary information and statistics about your organisation to hand.

AIM: We are looking forward to seeing how this unique project develops Catherine – so what do you think the legacy of the AIM Hallmarks Award will be for the museum and your community?

CA: I would say that the main legacies for our community will be that participants will be positively affected by the process of recording the shows. People will be able to look at what we produce and remember their experiences. Their children will be able to look back in time and see and hear significant people in their locality.

I hope we will benefit from a raised profile and good will. We will also be able to capture a way of life for future generations to learn from and enjoy finding out about. As we are a largely volunteer run organisation. I anticipate that people will see the value in our work and come forward to help us in the way they did when we were set up as a community arts organisation and community museum.

AIM: Thanks for your time Catherine. Finally, what would you say to encourage other AIM members to apply for an AIM Hallmarks Award?

CA: I would encourage people to go for the award. You will find the process easier than most. It will help you realise a project you feel passionate about or will help you to develop one. That in turn will allow you to revisit and re-evaluate who you are and what you do.

Application information for the AIM Hallmarks Awards

Offering grants of between £5,000 and £15,000, the AIM Hallmarks Awards help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

The third round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017 – but how could you use an award in your museum?

The AIM Hallmarks Awards can be used by successful applicants in two distinct ways:

*To fund an organisational review: This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. Some museums might want to use the AIM Hallmarks as a framework to review their organisational health and can apply for this funding for support in planning future development

*To contribute to a project that supports applicant organisations to behave or develop differently: Museums which have already identified development needs reflecting the principles of the AIM Hallmarks, can apply for funding to put their ideas into practice and progress programmes of work which will enable them to become more resilient and to prosper in the future. Projects can be linked to any of the Hallmarks but must seek to support change at a strategic level and/or to have an impact on organisational culture and behaviour.

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have already helped AIM members in England and Wales to review their organisational health or to develop new ways of working and we strongly encourage potential applicants to discuss their ideas with AIM’s Assistant Director, Helen Wilkinson, before applying.

You can contact Helen by email: helenw@aim-museums.co.uk or by phone on: 0771 966 7102

All information about the AIM Hallmarks Awards including guidance notes and application form can be found on the AIM Hallmarks Awards page.

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Consultants Appointed for Diversifying Museum Visitors Project

Julie Aldridge Associates with Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis have been appointed to undertake a ground breaking project that will help museums to increase the diversity of their visitors.

The key focus of the project will be on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change in their organisations to achieve this. It will focus on how to attract more people to a museum’s core offer, rather than engaging with them through special projects, which are increasingly challenging to sustain in the current financial climate. The consultants will be working directly with museums, using co-production techniques, to investigate the challenges and develop ways of helping museums make the progress they want to in this area.

The project is being led by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM). The project steering group includes AIM and four other organisations who are funding the project – Arts Council England, the Museums Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and National Museums Northern Ireland – as well as the Museums Association and people working in museums that have specialised in this area. The project will cover museums of all types, across the whole UK.

Black Country Living Museum

Image: Courtesy of Black Country Living Museum, Dudley

Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM, said “There has been a huge amount of interest in this project already. By attracting new audiences, museums better fulfil their missions and increase their sustainability, so it is an extremely important area on which to focus. AIM’s 2016 research into the impact of admission charges, ‘Taking Charge’, showed that free admission is not enough to attract more diverse visitors by itself. We know that lots of museums, whether free-entry or charging for admission, are very committed to diversifying their visitors, but it often seems hard to achieve. This project will look at why that is and how some museums have overcome those challenges.”

Julie Aldridge Associates with Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis were appointed from a very strong field, after an open call for proposals. Julie Aldridge commented, “We’re delighted to be appointed to work on this significant and timely programme.  We’ve come together as a trio of consultants to combine experience – across visitor development, diversity and inclusion, research, and producing resources and development programmes – to support and enable museums to achieve their ambitions.”

“We were particularly interested in taking part due to the co-creation emphasis that the steering group suggested for this work.  We believe this approach is vital to creating something that works well for a broad mix of museums and helps overcome both internal and external barriers.  We will shortly be announcing opportunities to get involved in the project and will be looking for people interested in exploring it with us, to share knowledge, inspire ideas, and to try out, test, and help shape the development of a practical toolkit designed to support people to make a significant impact in diversifying museum visitors.”

The results of the research are expected to be launched in the Autumn.


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AIM Hallmarks Awards: Final Round Now Open For Applications

The third and final round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017. Offering grants of between £5,000 and £15,000, the AIM Hallmarks Awards help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. For example, in Round 1 of the AIM Hallmarks Awards, The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials, which you can read about HERE. Organisational review projects funded include one for Amgeudffa Pontypool Museum.

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The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials (Photo credit: The Lightbox)

Work funded by an AIM Hallmarks Award must be demonstrably central to an applicant museum’s organisational development and closely linked to the museum’s strategic plan. Where possible, we are keen for projects to innovate, trialling approaches or ways of working which are either wholly new to the museum sector, or new to museums of a particular kind or size. In Round 2, for example, the Royal West of England Academy received funding to trial offering executive training away days to corporate clients as a means of income generation.

Helen Wilkinson, AIM Assistant Director, said: “We’re really open to a wide range of proposals – either for doing some serious thinking about the future of your museum, or testing out an idea you already have. We’re looking for fresh thinking and energy above all else – could you use a Hallmark Award to lay the foundations for a new way of working?”

Who Has Already Benefitted From An AIM Hallmarks Award?

In the second round of awards, five were made to museums and heritage sites in England, and three to museums in Wales.

Successful applicants in England were:

Radstock Museum in Somerset, awarded £12,000 for a project to remodel the main permanent displays in the gallery to reflect its name change to Somerset Coalfield Life at Radstock Museum. In doing so, the museum hopes to attract a wider and more diverse audience and enhance their learning offer to engage schools.

Seven Stories and the Mary Rose Trust both awarded funding for in house programmes of leadership development for staff (£8720 for Mary Rose Trust and £11,660 for Seven Stories).

Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review.

Brantwood Trust, awarded £7,842.00 for a project to share Ruskin’s ideas with a wider audience through collections digitisation and videos for its website.

Royal West of England Academy, awarded £9,060.00 for a project to develop packages of executive development training, using the museum’s collections, as a means of income generation.


Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review

And in Wales:

Cardiff Story Museum awarded £8000 for a marketing review, to enable it to improve its financial resilience.

Rhayader Museum and Gallery, awarded £10,590 for a project to document local town and country shows, using volunteers in innovative ways.

Pontypool Museum, awarded £5000 towards the costs of an organisational review.

How To Apply

AIM Hallmarks Awards in England

AIM Hallmarks Awards in Wales

The third round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017.

If you are considering making an application to the final round of the Hallmarks Awards, guidance notes to support your application are available here AIM Hallmarks Awards

Or you can email Helen Wilkinson on helenw@aim-museums.co.uk.






Consultant/s Sought For Groundbreaking Diversifying Museum Visitors Project

Increasing the diversity of their visitors is one of the aims of many museums. It directly relates to the core purpose of museums, as well as offering the opportunity to support museums’ sustainability. Whilst there have been previous studies in the museum and related sectors, progress towards this goal has been limited for the majority of museums.

We are seeking a consultant or consultants to undertake a UK-wide project, the purpose of which is to help museums to increase the diversity of their core visitors. The key focus of the project is on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change in their organisations to achieve this.


We expect the project to include a review of existing literature, examination of case studies and production of guidance, toolkits, frameworks or other types of support, which should be co-produced with a range of different types of museums. Consultants are also asked to make recommendations about actions that sector support organisations should take and about rolling out the outcomes of this project, as well as long-term evaluation.

The project is led by the Association of Independent Museums, in partnership with Arts Council England, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Northern Ireland and Welsh Government. There is a budget of up to £25,000. The work is to be completed by Autumn 2017.

Consultants or consortia interested in applying should download the Invitation to Tender below:

Invitation to Tender Diversifying Museum Visitors

Proposals should be submitted to tamalie@aim-museums.co.uk by 5pm on 16 Feb 2017


AIM Survey 2016: Please Tell Us What You Think

We are thinking about how AIM can better help heritage organisations prosper in the next few years and we’d really like to know what you think. We’ve put together a survey to help you share your views with us and we’d be grateful if you would take five or ten minutes to complete it.

You are welcome to complete the survey even if you are not an AIM member.

Survey link: AIM Membership Survey 2016

Last time we asked you to complete a survey like this (in 2014) we were thrilled at the response and it made a big difference to what we do. The results were used by AIM Council to help develop our planning for 2015-18 and helped us create the Hallmarks of Prospering Museums.

It also helped us to secure the £900,000 investment from Arts Council England and funds from the Welsh Government, which are being used now through our Hallmarks programmes of leadership development, grants and governance support. Most of all – it helps us understand your challenges and how we can do more to help you. 


The survey is primarily designed for people working in or supporting heritage organisations, so some of the questions may not be relevant if you are a supplier or consultant member (and thank you again to those of our suppliers and consultants who completed our survey for you last year.)

Please consider sharing this link with colleagues in the museum and heritage sector.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to let us know what you think. We will share the results with you in the February Bulletin and on the AIM blog.

If you have thoughts that don’t fit in the survey, please email me as well at tamalie@aim-museums.co.uk 

Tamalie Newbery

Executive Director (AIM)


Round 2 Of The AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers Programme Is Now Open

The second round of the AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers Programme is now open for applications. AIM’s development programmes support people who work in or with museums, with the aim of helping heritage organisations prosper.

The AIM Hallmarks Museum Leaders Programme provides practical tools, useful insights and a supportive peer network to equip museum directors to realise the full potential of their organisations.  Guest speakers from across the wider third sector will enable you to learn from successful charities, particularly focusing on organisational resilience and leadership. The programme will give you:

*Increased confidence, knowledge and skills

*The tools to increase the resilience and long term prosperity of your museum, strengthening its organisational culture and embedding the AIM Hallmarks

*A mutually supportive peer network

*A positive approach to problem solving

*Opportunities for reflection and review

“The AIM Museum Leaders course provides an invaluable opportunity to better understand and develop your own leadership skills, and offers a constructive and supportive environment to constructively review your Museum and gain new insight into how to implement change,” said Eleanor Pulfer-Sharma, Director, Bentley Priory Museum and a participant in Leaders Round 1.

“The programme is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, to promote your development as a leader in the museum sector and to equip you and your organisation to be resilient in the face of the many challenges that lie ahead, particularly given the political and financial uncertainty of the next few years,” said Jason Semmens, Director, Army Medical Services Museum and a participant in Leaders Round 1.

There are 12 places for museum leaders in England, and 2 places for museum leaders from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Visit the AIM website for application information: The AIM Hallmarks Museum Leaders Programme

Applications close: 5pm on Monday 9 January 2017

Download: aim-hallmarks-leaders-enablers-programme-brochure-2017

Startup Stock Photos

The AIM Hallmarks Enablers Programme is for people who support museums through their work, for example through Museum Development or as independent consultants. It aims to equip participants to support organisations more effectively. Participants will become part of a skilled group of enablers who can support museums to use the AIM Hallmarks, helping them prosper.

The programme gives you the chance to develop consultancy and coaching techniques and use them effectively to help organisations change. It will develop your understanding of how organisations work and of the challenges of leadership, with insight from senior managers and trustees.

Through the programme, you will have chance to build a dynamic portfolio of tools to use in your work with museums and become part of a peer network and share ideas and insights.

The programme will give you:

*High quality facilitation techniques to use with museums

*The opportunity to develop independent thinking and new approaches to complex issues

*A mutually supportive peer network

*A positive approach to problem solving

*Opportunities for reflection and review

“Engaging with the Enablers programme has allowed me to evaluate and strengthen my relationships with museums. It is helping me to develop more effective mentoring, advocacy and facilitation skills which are transferable across all areas of Museum Development delivery,” said Sarah Spurrier, Museum Development East Midlands and an Enablers Participant in Round 1.

“Taking part in the Enablers programme has helped me develop my skillset and learn from and share ideas with the excellent Hilary and Ruth as well as an inspirational group of consultants and Museum Development Officers. Knowledge I have developed on the programme has enabled me to better support museum staff and trustees to embed change at their organisations and make their organisations more resilient,” said Laura Crossley, independent consultant and an Enablers Participant in Round 1.

There are 12 supported places for people working in England. If you work in a museum development role in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, please contact us to discuss the possibility of a self-funded place. Consultants and freelancers are encouraged to apply.

Visit the AIM website for application information: The AIM Hallmarks Enablers Programme

Applications close: 5pm on Monday 9 January 2017

Download: aim-hallmarks-leaders-enablers-programme-brochure-2017


What’s Needed Next? One Month On From The AIM Evaluating The Evidence Report On Admission Charging

Nearly a month after AIM launched its new Success Guide –  Successfully Setting Admission Policy and Pricing – and the research behind it (jointly commissioned with Arts Council England and the Welsh Government), we’ve been speaking to AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner, about how the research has been received and what next steps are needed to help museums; including further research to support museums to attract more diverse visitors.


AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner

AIM: Matthew, you introduced this research at the launch event in Cardiff on 8 September and you are speaking about it at the Visitor Attractions Conference in London this week. Why do you think it is so important for museums to have evidence to support their decisions about whether to charge for admission or not?

Matthew Tanner: Whether to charge or not to charge for admission is a question that many people want to see addressed – so AIM has looked in detail at the problem in this research report. There is a wealth of practical information in the report to help any museum considering making changes to its admissions policy – helping us all understand on a rational basis the impact of our decisions. The truth is until now, there has been too little hard evidence in terms of the impact of charging for admission, which has led to people sometimes taking entrenched positions based on politics and emotion, rather than on data and analysis.

AIM seeks an evidence based contribution to this issue, so that it can support museums with all or any charging models. What this report does is to provide evidence and offer a fresh start, moving us past a debate which had become rather sterile. For the landscape is much more complicated than is often acknowledged. The research showed 37% of independent museums have free entry policies and 37% of local authority museums charge.

We wanted to make sure that the overall tone of the work is equally inclusive of both museums that charge and that don’t. We avoid a tone that ‘justifies’ charging museums, but it is useful to highlight some of the presumptions people sometimes make unthinkingly.

AIM: One of the findings, which has surprised some people, is that there is little difference in the socio-economic background, or in other diversity characteristics, between the visitors to free-entry museums and those that charge admission. Why is this important to recognise?

Matthew Tanner: It has been an old and lazy habit to assume that some museums are entirely free, and that’s always good, and some are not – and that is not so good. We know it’s much more complex, and that simplistic view simply cannot stand any longer.

For example, AIM Visitor Verdict shows AB social grades clearly account for the highest individual group – 60% for paid admission and 62% for free admission museums. Whereas, for the UK as a whole these groups accounted for 22% of the population. Conversely, the proportions of visitors falling within the C2 and DE groups (25% for paid admission museums and 20% for free admission museums), were much lower than the national picture, where close to 47% of people are in these groups[1].

At AIM National Conference in Edinburgh this year, Sir Peter Luff called for a greater mix and diversity of visitors – we need to now to respond and move the conversation on and away from ‘charging museums being inaccessible’ or ‘free ones being full of visitors from diverse backgrounds’. Whether a museum charges or not has little or no effect on the diversity of its audience – other factors are much more important. Some museums moving from charging to free do report increases in visitors, particularly from local people, but note this should not be confused with diversity – there is no change in the overall diversity of visitors in those situations[2].


AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner, with Jonathan Durnin and Dr Stephen Connolly from DC Research at the launch of the admissions report on 8 September

AIM: So what do we know about why few people from the C2, D and E socio-economic grades visit museums?

Matthew Tanner: One of the significant findings of the National Survey for Wales is in relation to barriers to entry to museums for Welsh residents. The survey asked respondents to indicate the reasons why they did not visit a museum, and found that the cost of visiting was one of the lowest given reasons, with just 3% expressing this as a reason for not visiting. The most common reasons were a lack of interest (31%) and difficulty in finding the time to visit (30%).  A further 19% indicated that it had never occurred to them to visit a museum in any case.

There are of course museums that are the exception to this pattern around social mix of visitors – e.g. Beamish and the Black Country Living Museum, achieving a social mix and diversity of visitor that reflects their community, but these are not distinguished by whether they charge for admissions or not, and this broad pattern needs to be acknowledged.

AIM: If it is not being free or charging that is creating the barriers to a more diverse audience… then what is it? And how can we overcome it?

Matthew Tanner: Wouldn’t we all like to know? Well yes we would. So I took the opportunity of the launch of the report last month, to call on Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government to commission vital new research into understanding the real cultural and practical barriers that prevent real reach and diversity in our audiences, and enable us to overcome these barriers. ACE, HLF and others should be encouraged to research beneath the waves around the diversity iceberg so that we can all benefit.

Reaching out to all, whether we need to charge or need to be free, is a common aim – we need to understand in common how we can best reach that target. I am pleased to say that this call for further research has already been heeded by others in the sector and AIM is putting together a group to work on commissioning this next vital piece of research.

AIM would like to hear from any museums that have a diverse mix of visitors and would be willing to be considered as case studies in any future research. Please contact tamalie@aim-museums.co.uk

To access the Success Guide and all reports associated with this research, please visit: Evaluating the Evidence The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums

  1. AIM Report section 3.7 & passim
  2. AIM Report passim



To Charge Or Not To Charge? AIM Launches Admissions Charging Research

AIM has just published new research to help museums understand the impact of charging for admission, or not, on all aspects of operating a successful museum. The revealing results dispel some myths that persist around this issue and will enable museums to make evidence-based decisions in this sometimes contentious area – but one that is vital to museums’ future sustainability. The research report is accompanied by a practical guide that museums can use to help them make decisions about whether an admission charge is right for their museum and if so, what price they should set.

AIM commissioned the study, ‘Taking Charge: evaluating the evidence’, and its accompanying guide for people running museums ‘Successfully Setting Admissions Policy and Pricing’ from DC Research, in partnership with Arts Council England and the Welsh Government.  It was launched this morning in Cardiff. The aim of the research was to understand the experience of museums that have moved from free admission to charging, or vice versa, or to hybrid models, and to investigate pricing strategies and their impact on visitor numbers, diversity, income, visitor satisfaction, and reputation and relationships.

The report and practical guide are now available to download from the AIM website or from the bottom of this page in English and the latter also in Welsh

To Charge Or Not To Charge? AIM Launches Admissions Charging Research


Photo ©The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Key findings from the research included:

*A large proportion of independent museums provide free admission, and a large proportion of local authority museums charge, so there is no ‘typical’ charging or free-entry museum.

*What a museum charges has no effect on the diversity of its audience – both charging and free-entry museums have similar demographic profiles for their visitors.

*Spend in shops and cafes, as well as donations from visitors, are more impacted by other factors than whether a museum charges for admission or not.

The research is very timely as an increasing number of museums are thinking about introducing admission charges, in response to reductions in local authority funding. However, it also has valuable information for museums considering introducing free admission and for those that already have an admission charge. The research showed there was usually little impact in terms of visitor number or diversity when prices were increased and a wide range of charging structures, some very innovative, are highlighted.

AIM Chair, Richard Evans said: “I warmly welcome this important report and hope it will help all of us that work in the sector – guiding us to make much better decisions in the future.  In the experience of many AIM members I know its key findings will ring true. There is a wealth of practical information in the report to help anyone considering making changes to their admission policy – helping us understand much better the impact of our decisions.  Those museums that do not charge have highlighted the importance of this policy to their local stakeholders and funders, for example.  Those museums that do charge benefit from longer visitor dwell time and often a higher visitor spend in shops and cafes.”

The research included a review of previous literature on the subject, a sector-wide survey of museums across the UK, visits to 20 case study museums and one-to-one consultations with key museum stakeholders.

“Crucially, the report highlights that the diversity of a museum’s audience is not affected by any decision to charge entry or allow free access.  This is really important because museums that charge are sometimes seen as providing less benefit to the public than those that allow free entry.  Cost is sometimes understood to be a barrier to access – but the research highlights that this is not the case,” said Richard Evans, AIM Chair.

A series of documents relating to this research is available to download below.

Practical guidance for museums is available in the new AIM Success Guide: Successfully Setting Admissions Policy and Pricing


Gosod Polisi a Phrisio Mynediadau yn Llwyddiannus

Executive Summary: Taking Charge – Evaluating the Evidence:  The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums  

Final Report: Taking Charge – Evaluating the Evidence:  The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums   

Summary Report For Wales

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Helping Museums To Prosper And Thrive: Round Two Of The AIM Hallmarks Awards Now Open

The second round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 7 October. The awards are supported using public funding by Arts Council England and the Welsh Government and the grants will be available in sums of between £5,000 and £15,000.

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have been developed to support museums and heritage sites to develop their work using the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums which helps to identify what it is about how successful heritage organisations work that enables them to prosper and thrive.

If you are considering applying for a grant in the second round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards, support is available to help you make a successful application. The upcoming AIM Hallmarks in Wales event  in Cardiff on 8 September is free to book for all AIM members across England and Wales and will offer hints and advice to museums considering applying for funding through the AIM Hallmarks Awards.

But how have museums that were successfully awarded funding in the first round of the awards benefitted from their grants – and what top tips can they share to ensure that your application is successful? We sat down with Pru Chambers, the Marketing Manager at The Lightbox in Woking, to find out how the AIM Hallmarks Awards have made a positive difference.

Young Curators Pop Art Workshop

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have helped The Lightbox to successfully engage with millennials (Photo: ©The Lightbox)

AIM: Hi Pru, can you explain why you decided to apply for the AIM Hallmarks Awards please?

PC: We were motivated to apply for an AIM Hallmarks Award following a strategic review that identified the need to ensure sustainability by maximising on our commercial ventures such as events and purchases in our Shop and Café.

One of our most popular income-generating events are regular monthly comedy nights, ‘Joke in the Box,’ which since being introduced in 2015 have proved very popular. The demographic that attend this event we found to be different to those that tend to visit an exhibition, which for The Lightbox is predominantly those with young families and those over the age of 55. In contrast, comedy nights are attended by a wide range of ages, including millennials which we classify as those aged 18-34.

Research into the demographics of the local area showed that a significant proportion of the population fall into the millennial bracket, and yet we struggle to engage them as visitors for anything other than the comedy nights. We were therefore motivated to apply for a Hallmarks award to conduct research into what other events would best attract the millennial audience and investigate which marketing channels and approaches would be most likely to raise awareness about our programme.

AIM: How did you find the AIM Hallmarks Awards application process Pru?

PC: The application process for the award was straightforward, with clear guidance notes available on how to complete the application form which was available to download via the AIM website. Support was also offered in person by a member of the AIM team throughout the application in process.

Pru Chambers Warhol and the World of Pop exhibition

“Being awarded the grant has also made us able to take action on the areas of need highlighted in our strategy review” says Pru Chambers, Marketing Manager at The Lightbox (Photo: ©The Lightbox)

AIM: What is it about these awards that you think will really help make your museum prosper in the future?

PC: This award should really help our gallery and museum to prosper and thrive by helping to widen our audience reach, increasing our audience spend per visitor, which will consequently help to ensure our long-term sustainability. By being awarded funds to conduct in-depth audience research this will intelligently inform our future programming and we will be able to follow up with a targeted marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst millennials in the local area.

AIM: How has being awarded a grant from the AIM Hallmarks Awards positively impacted on the Lightbox so far?

PC: The Hallmark award is already impacting positively on the organisation as we recruited a millennial to help expand our social media channels by introducing Instagram which is quickly gaining followers. We also recruited an agency to conduct both qualitative and quantitative millennials research. For the focus groups and questionnaires, the agency needed stimulus ideas which resulted in a brain-storming session on events and price-points that was very positive. Being awarded the grant has also made us able to take action on the areas of need highlighted in the strategy review with a thorough and well-funded research and action plan which is excellent for the morale of the organisation.

AIM: How has the AIM Hallmarks Award helped The Lightbox’s strategic priorities Pru?

PC: The AIM award has helped our strategic priorities as we identified a need to expand our offerings and raise awareness amongst the millennial audience which we know is one of the largest segments of people living locally.

Our priority is to engage the widest possible audience in activities that generate income such as through events and spend in our Café, Shop or Venue Hire. We know from previous research that 18-34 year olds are likely to spend once they do visit us, particularly at events where there is an option to purchase food and drinks. The challenge has always been to create the right events and generate enough awareness to get this group to attend, and to keep attending, and thanks to the Hallmarks fund we are able to invest money into vital research and marketing.

AIM: That’s such good news Pru – do you have any tips for applicants in this second round of the awards?

PC: To apply for a project that gives the opportunity to really help your organisation prosper and thrive, whether that be defined as increase an in visitors, increase in awareness, widening the programme or supporting a particular project that will have a really positive impact on staff and sustainability.

Find out more about the AIM Hallmarks Awards and top tips for your application at the free Hallmarks in Wales event 8 September

 Hallmarks in Wales

Guidance and application forms for the AIM Hallmarks Awards can be downloaded by visiting:

 AIM Hallmarks Awards

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Dates For Your Diary – Upcoming AIM Events

We have created this at a glance guide to all upcoming AIM events so you can see what events are right for you, and also how to book. If you need any other information about these AIM events, please email: sassy@aim-museums.co.uk

8 September 2016 – Cardiff

AIM Wales Events – UK Launch of AIM Admissions Research Report and AIM Hallmarks in Wales

UK Launch of AIM Admissions Research Report (morning session)

This morning event will launch the official report containing vital research into the impact of charging for admissions on museums and heritage sites, including results from the recent admissions survey. Attendees will receive copies of the summarised report before enjoying a buffet lunch.

AIM Hallmarks in Wales (afternoon session)

Attendees are invited to lunch followed by an afternoon session exploring the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums. Guest speakers will reflect on their own leadership approaches and organisational development in light of the Hallmarks and there will be more information about the AIM Hallmarks programme. Thanks to funding from Welsh Government, AIM members in Wales are now eligible to apply for grants via the AIM Hallmarks Awards.

Attendees are welcome to attend either or both events with a buffet lunch included.

Further information and booking: AIM Wales Events  

castle BlackJoin AIM in Wales on 8 Sept for the UK launch of the admissions research and the launch of the AIM Hallmarks in Wales

Wednesday 28 September – Birmingham

Monday 14 November – London

Reviewing Your Board For Succession Planning

Led by Joy Allen of Leading Governance, this seminar is for any board which needs to recruit new trustees or broaden its range of skills, this interactive workshop will provide practical tips for board succession planning, including how to conduct a useful skills audit and recruitment methods in practice.

Further information and booking: Reviewing Your Board For Succession Planning

Trustees 5Reviewing Your Board For Succession Planning will help any board that needs to recruit new Trustees – join us in Birmingham or London

Tuesday 4 October – London

Delivering Excellent Heritage Projects: Free AIM Biffa Award Seminar

If you are about to start a new capital heritage project or want to deliver a successful interpretation project, this seminar at the London Transport Museum will inspire you and give you the confidence you need. Museums and heritage sites embarking on a major development project will gain invaluable top tips on how to manage processes and planning, how to avoid pitfalls and recognise opportunities and how to manage communications and relationships with key stakeholders and volunteers.

Further information and booking: Delivering Excellent Heritage Projects

Cromford_Mills_-_General_001Museums and heritage sites embarking on a major development project will gain invaluable top tips at our Biffa Award funded seminar in London

19 October – London

Engaging Board Meetings

Led by Anne Murch and Gaby Porter, this workshop is for anyone who has ever felt that their board could be engaging with big, exciting questions as well as the routine oversight of their organisation. It will aim to answer questions such as “How do we engage board members in creative conversations and invite them to contribute their ideas with enthusiasm?” as well as enabling boards to ensure they bring their attention to what matters most for the organisation.

Further information and booking: Engaging Board Meetings

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This workshop is for anyone who has ever felt that their board could be engaging with big, exciting questions as well as the routine oversight of their organisation